Virtual Reality (VR) is essentially what it sounds like—”near-reality,” or in this case, a specific type of reality emulation. VR refers to any technology that completely replaces what your eyes see. This is typically achieved by wearing a headset or lense of sorts that allows you to create heightened storytelling and an enhanced imaginary reality for gaming and entertainment, or a simulation of real life environments (such as flight simulators for pilots)—among many other uses. The viewer becomes a part of this virtual world, immersed in a three-dimensional environment, and able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions. What do the new VR trends mean for your association? Read on to find out.

VR is trending hard. According to a report published by Zion Market Research, the global VR market is set for rapid growth; the market was valued at approximately 2.02 billion USD in 2016 and is expected to reach around 26.89 billion USD by 2022. It is one of the most powerful and important inventions in the tech community and is set to experience wide-scale adoption by many big tech leaders in the years to come.

Last year, giants like Google, HTC and Samsung released a number of headsets and VR gear. Facebook’s Oculus Rift is already making strides in modernizing the gaming industry through headsets that show images and virtual landscapes in real-time. However, there’s more to VR than just fun and games:

Virtual Learning

Schools, nonprofits and companies that have adopted VR in their classrooms, learning modules or onboarding programs have noticed immediate increased engagement and interest amongst students and employees. It creates an active rather than passive experience, and can help students better understand complex subjects, theories and concepts. The exploration and hands-on approach also assists with information retention.

Virtual Events and Vendor/Booth Showcasing

A VR interface is an escape that can help companies stand out from their competitors at large events and trade shows. Big brands like the N.B.A and Oculus, United Airlines, ProBrew, and I.B.M have used VR to generate buzz around new product launches, help consumers view intricate pieces of equipment and transport them to new places. VR has provided event planners, associations, and brands alike the opportunity to create multi-sensory activations and deeply engaging experiences for their target audiences.

Advertising

Yes, it used to be the stuff of science fiction, but now it’s no surprise that VR is rapidly advancing in the advertising industry. Particularly Google, who created an animated VR short eloquently named, Pearl. It’s about a father/daughter road trip that features the two driving along in a car, playing music and traveling from city to city. Viewers can watch the six-minute movie with a VR headset which lets them feel as if they’re inside of the car with Pearl and her dad. Volvo also jumped at the opportunity to use Google Cardboard, and put its users in the driver’s seat of their new XC90 SUV for pleasant, virtual, test-drive. VR helps brands connect with their consumers, and allows them to showcase their product in new and interactive ways.

Many industries (think medicine, sports, architecture, entertainment, the arts, etc.) have already adopted a wide variety of VR applications, and the opportunities are truly endless. As it becomes more affordable and widespread, we can expect to see many more innovative uses for this technology moving forward. How do you as an association leader plan to use VR in the future?

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